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ATK Helps Launch National Security Payload for the National Reconnaissance Office
by Staff Writers
Arlington, VA (SPX) Apr 05, 2012

File image.

ATK composite and propulsion technologies supported the successful launch of a United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket carrying a national security payload for the National Reconnaissance Office Tuesday afternoon. ATK's two 70-foot long, 60-inch-diameter Graphite Epoxy Motors (GEM) ignited at liftoff, burned for 90 seconds, and provided 560,000 pounds of thrust to help deliver the payload to orbit.

ATK designed and produced the nozzle for the Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne-built RS-68 first stage engine - the largest hydrogen-powered engine in the world - as well as the nozzle's thermal protection material, which is capable of shielding it from the extreme heat of launch when external temperatures can exceed 4,000 F. The nozzle is manufactured at ATK's Promontory, Utah, facility.

ATK supplied nine key composite structures for the Delta IV Medium plus (5,2) launch vehicle including the interstage, centerbody, thermal shield and an LO2 skirt. The payload is encapsulated by a composite payload fairing, along with required hardware for payload integration.

The composite structures are five meters in diameter and range from one to fifteen meters in length and are produced at the ATK manufacturing facility in Iuka, Miss., with additional hardware produced at the Clearfield, Utah facility.

ATK's Commerce, Calif., facility manufactures the Upper Stage Reaction Control System (RCS) propellant tank assembly, which uses an elastomeric diaphragm to dampen fluid motion and limit the shifting of the propellant's center of gravity.

It is the current industry standard for launch vehicle RCS tank needs in the United States and has been flight-proven on Delta and Atlas launch vehicles; the Space Shuttle fleet; and interplanetary spacecraft including Pioneer, Voyager, and CASSINI.

Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne Engines Successfully Boost Government Payload Into Space
Canoga Park, CA (SPX) Apr 05 - The sky rumbled with the sound of a rocket launch Tuesday as Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne once again demonstrated the consistent reliability of its propulsion systems with the successful lift-off of a critical satellite for the U.S. government.

The mission launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. on a United Launch Alliance Delta IV medium rocket with Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne RS-68 and RL10B-2 engines providing the booster and upper-stage propulsion, respectively. Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne is a United Technologies Corp. company.

"There's nothing like the sound of a rocket engine as it boosts a payload into orbit, and with more than 700,000 pounds of thrust, the RS-68 engine certainly delivers," said Dan Adamski, RS-68 program manager, Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne.

"It was another amazing launch for this highly reliable, commercially-developed engine, and we look forward to continuing to demonstrate its capabilities on future missions for our ULA and government customers."

"The reliable RL10 engine continues to serve a vital role ensuring these critical payloads are safely delivered into orbit, providing critical capabilities to our service women and men serving around the world," said Christine Cooley, RL10 program manager, Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne.

"The RL10 upper-stage engine proved its worth again, surprising no one with its impeccable performance."

The RS-68 is the world's largest hydrogen-fueled engine, designed for heavy lift with 758,000 pounds of vacuum thrust and 663,000 pounds of sea-level thrust. The RL10B-2 is a unique cryogenic upper-stage engine that provides 465 seconds of specific impulse and 24,750 pounds of thrust.

Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne has a strong proven history of successfully powering launches with payloads that include humans; cargo; and satellites vital to space exploration, worldwide communication, navigation, defense, research and development, and weather prediction.

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